What Are the Best Tips for Making Shrimp Cocktail?

Tiffany Manley

Shrimp cocktail is a dish that is enjoyed by many people on special occasions, at seafood restaurants, at home and in many other places. When prepared well, shrimp cocktail can be a delicious dish. Some tips for making shrimp cocktail include using fresh or quality frozen shrimp, seasoning the shrimp during cooking, avoiding overcooking the shrimp, using a quality cocktail sauce and presenting the dish in a stylish manner.

Cocktail sauce, usually made with red chili and tomatoes, is a key component of the shrimp cocktail.
Cocktail sauce, usually made with red chili and tomatoes, is a key component of the shrimp cocktail.

When making shrimp cocktail, an individual should use the highest-quality shrimp he or she can find. For some people, this might mean using fresh shrimp. If fresh shrimp is not an option, quality frozen shrimp might be used. The shrimp should be large in size if possible, but shrimp of any size can be used for making shrimp cocktail. Shrimp that has been peeled and de-veined is best, but a cook can peel and de-vein the shrimp himself or herself if necessary.

Shrimp that is frozen raw must be properly thawed before it's cooked.
Shrimp that is frozen raw must be properly thawed before it's cooked.

To many people, the best part of shrimp cocktail is the flavor of the cocktail sauce, but the shrimp itself still should be seasoned during cooking. There are several ways that an individual might prepare and cook the shrimp, such as boiling it in seasoned water, brining and broiling it after seasoning or simply grilling the seasoned shrimp. Lightly seasoning the shrimp provides a complementary flavor to the shrimp's natural flavor and the cocktail sauce.

Some shrimp cocktails are garnished with diced tomato and onion.
Some shrimp cocktails are garnished with diced tomato and onion.

When making shrimp cocktail, it also is best for the preparer to avoid overcooking the shrimp. Cooking it for too long can make the shrimp tough or chewy and will not complement the dish well. Shrimp should be pink and opaque when cooked properly.

Cocktail sauce is the second main component of shrimp cocktail. Sauce varieties include ones predominantly made of tomato sauce and horseradish sauce and others that include tomatoes, horseradish and chili sauce. In addition to these main ingredients, cocktail sauce also usually includes a variety of seasonings and spices. Sauces bought in stores might be a good alternative to homemade sauce.

Presentation is just as important as taste for many diners. When serving shrimp cocktail, an individual should ensure that his or her presentation is clean and stylish. The presentation does not need to be extravagant and can be as simple as placing the shrimp on a clean plate with a dish full of cocktail sauce set off to the side. A more detailed presentation might include a large cocktail glass filled with sauce and rimmed with shrimp.

Leftover shrimp cocktail may be used to prepare a variety of other dishes.
Leftover shrimp cocktail may be used to prepare a variety of other dishes.

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Discussion Comments

Ivan83

Everyone uses cocktail sauce. But shrimp is so delicious, there must be other sauces that I could pair it with. Has anyone used anything besides the typical red, tart cocktail sauce?

whiteplane
I know that the typical shrimp cocktail presentation is to put them in some kind of fluted glass, but I want to shake things up a bit. Does anyone have any ideas for other presentation methods? I am open to any suggestion. It does not need to involve a glass, or a plate, or anything based on preconceived notions.
Belted

Use quality ingredients. That would be my number one piece of advice for anyone making shrimp cocktail. It is really just two things: shrimp and cocktail sauce. So get nice, quality shrimp and a cocktail sauce that you like. And, no, not all cocktail sauces are the same. So try a few and experiment with some different flavors. Once you get the shrimp and the sauce right you have something divine.

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